Friday, November 17, 2006

Hibernating Moose

For now, the Moose bids adieu to his Mooseketeers.

It's been a good run. The Moose has tremendously enjoyed musing, observing and holding forth on the issues of the day. But, for the time being, this cervine creature will not be seen in cyberspace.

The great and grand political development of the past year has been the triumph of Independent - Democrat Senator Joe Lieberman. Joe has bravely revived the great tradition of Scoop Jackson that is so critically needed at this time of international challenge and crisis. The Moose is leaving the blogosphere with the deep satisfaction that in a small way he was part of this historic and monumental victory for the vital center.

The Moose has attempted to give voice to the immoderate moderates that are often not represented by either the donkey or by the elephant. In the proud tradition of T.R., the Moose has defied the reigning orthodoxies of the two parties.

The Moose may re-emerge at any moment in a new venue. The fight is far from over. The program of progressive national greatness is a powerful one that can have great resonance in American public life.

So, the Moose declares "farewell", for now. He is hibernating... or not. He thanks his Mooseketeers for their loyalty and often insightful communications to him. And the nutroots and their ilk should not take solace in the departure of the Moose. The Moose will surely re-emerge again. When and where will the Moose be spotted?

The Moose works in mysterious ways...
-- Posted at 8:27 AM | Link to this post | Email this post

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Limits of Realism

The Moose argues that progressives shouldn't redeploy away from their principles.

The Iraq war is leading some progressives into a full embrace of neo-realism. These liberals shun interventionist internationalism for the type of pragmatic realism that was the hallmark of Brent Scowcroft and Jim Baker. In fact, these two Republican figures are rapidly becoming national security role models in progressive circles.

Not so fast. It was the realists' coddling of Middle Eastern tyrannies that helped breed the Jihadist menace with which we are at war. Saudi Arabia which spreads Wahabi hatred is Exhibit A of a theocracy that realists love to love. Back in the nineties, the realists would have us look away from the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans.

Will Marshall authors a fine rebuke to the realists in the new issue of Blueprint Magazine - here.

Marshall writes,

"Democrats should leave realpolitik to Republicans and instead offer an internationalist alternative to Bush's policies. Rather than limit America's power, this approach would embed it in an expanding alliance of global democracies and a modernized system of collective security better able to protect the weak from the strong. In an interdependent world, America should use its power to shape international institutions that can cope effectively with global terror networks, failing states, nuclear proliferation, and mass murder in places like Darfur. But America must remain the catalyst for collective action; there is simply no one else who can take our place.

"Realists see American idealism as a dangerous distraction from the unsentimental pursuit of core national interests. But progressives believe U.S. foreign policy works best when it reflects the moral sentiments and political values of the American people. Recognizing that what happens within states is often more important for world order than what happens between states, progressives understand that the peaceful spread of liberal democracy is a strategic imperative for America."

The manifold errors in Iraq are giving internationalism a bad name. But, President Bush was fundamentally correct in his analysis that genuine democratic transformation is the only long term answer to the Jihadist threat. There must be an alternative to the stifling tyrannies of the Islamic world.

We have painfully learned that this transformation will be difficult and is by no means guaranteed. The Islamic world will not easily adopt democratic habits. However, the realists' answer is not a plausible alternative either strategically or morally.

In 1992, Bill Clinton was correct in opposing Jim Baker realism toward the Balkans. And the failures of this Administration should not tempt contemporary progressives to succumb to the allure of neo-realism.

Realists would not have had us intervene in Rwanda in the nineties. They would look askance at stopping the genocide in Darfur. And the liberal "get out now" realists would allow Iraq to truly devolve into a massive killing field that would damage our moral and strategic standing for a generation.

If a Democratic Congress forces a premature withdrawal from Iraq, the party will pay for it in moral and political terms for many years to come. Yes, the American people want a change in course in Iraq. But, they will not readily embrace defeat. And, like after Vietnam, the Democratic Party will be branded as the party of defeat and retreat.

Progressives should not abandon liberal values at the water's edge.
-- Posted at 8:18 AM | Link to this post | Email this post

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Crisis of Confidence

The Moose comments on the torment of the right.

Back in the early sixties, Barry Goldwater wrote the right wing manifesto, "Conscience of a Conservative." Today, it would likely be titled, "The Crisis of Confidence of a Conservative."

For the past forty years, conservatism was in the ascendancy. Just a couple of years ago, it had a certain self-confident swagger. Hubris was its only threat. In 2000, conservatism reached its zenith. The right had a President that was viewed as Reagan plus. Conservative leaders controlled the Legislation and Executive Branches. The entire "Leave us Alone" crowd was riding high in the saddle.

And now, conservatives are wondering how they were so resoundingly rejected not by the elites, but by the masses. They have been left alone.

Social security privatization went nowhere. The Schiavo episode was a disaster. The public has no great appetite for more tax cuts. A conservative-led Congress and President greatly expanded the welfare state. The disillusionment with this Administration is now profound. The right even sympathizes with the hapless Rumsfeld.

The Moose is not suggesting that conservatism is in disrepute. It has not reached the state of liberalism in which actual adherents of that view fear to attach that label to themselves. However, there is no doubt that the right faces a crisis of confidence that is usually associated with the left.

Whither conservatism? Is big government compatible with this perspective? How is it to win back the affections of the middle class when it pursues a plutocratic economic policy? Are they internationalists who can competently manage nation building? Will the right write off millions and millions of Americans in a restrictionist rage?

Fundamentally, will conservatism shrink to the minority movement it once was? Or will it evolve into a more middle class and less plutocratic movement?

All elephants (and donkeys for that matter) would be well served to read this brilliant piece by Ross Douthat & Reihan Salam that appeared in the Weekly Standard a while back - The Party of Sam's Club. Douthat and Salam wrote,

"The economic anxieties of middle and working-class voters are likely to be the domestic political issue of the coming years, and a party, or at the very least a 2008 presidential candidate, in search of an agenda needs to start thinking seriously about how to address them."

Can conservatism be born again?
-- Posted at 8:10 AM | Link to this post | Email this post

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Won't Get Fooled Again

The Moose wonders what the incoming Speaker was thinking when she decided to meddle in the Majority Leader's race.

If there was one unmistakable message that the voters were sending last week is that they are sick and tired of the old Washington politics of pork, perks and corruption. That is why it is so perplexing that Congresswoman Pelosi chose as her first major public action to lend her support to John Murtha for Majority Leader.

Congressman Murtha, while a decorated patriot, is not going to win any awards from Common Cause as a stalwart congressional reformer - quite the opposite. He is the embodiment of the old guard pork-laden, back-scratching politics that was rejected last Tuesday.

Today's editorial in the Washington Post,

"Mr. Murtha would also be the wrong choice as majority leader after an election in which a large number of voters expressed unhappiness with Washington business as usual. Mr. Murtha has been a force against stronger ethics and lobbying rules. He was one of just four Democrats whose votes helped kill a strong Democratic package of lobbying reforms this spring.

"As a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, he has been an avid participant in the orgy of earmarking, including numerous projects sought by a lobbying firm that employed his brother. During the Abscam congressional bribery investigation in 1980, Mr. Murtha was videotaped discussing a bribe with an undercover FBI agent. ("You know, we do business for a while, maybe I'll be interested, maybe I won't, you know," Mr. Murtha said.) He wasn't indicted, but it's fair to say the episode raised questions about his integrity."

The Speaker-elect's misstep will hopefully be soon forgotten if Steny Hoyer is victorious in this race. However, it is not a promising opening act. Democrats must realize that the voters are desperately looking for a departure from business as usual.

The new boss must be clearly distinct from the old boss.
-- Posted at 8:23 AM | Link to this post | Email this post

Monday, November 13, 2006

Hoyer for Leader*

The Moose endorses Steny.

The Moose has long admired Steny Hoyer. He represents the Truman/JFK/Scoop tradition in the party of a strong national defense and progressive social policy. He is an effective spokesman for the vital center that his party is attempting to seize.

Steny Hoyer should become the donkey's House Majority Leader. He is being challenged by John Murtha who has become the darling of the anti-war left in the House and nationally. While Murtha is a patriot, he now represents the old guard of ideological polarazation. A Murtha victory would be viewed by the media as a triumph for the left. It would be welcomed by the right which is desperately looking for some good news.

This should also concern the Democrats - today's Washington Post,

"Hoyer also has the strong support of many of the party's conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats, who worry about Murtha's involvement in the Abscam bribery sting in 1980 and what they see as his freewheeling style on the House Appropriations Committee, where he has openly advocated for the interests of his district and his political supporters."

Most importantly, Steny has earned the position of Majority Leader. As an opposition leader, Steny was a reasoned, articulate, media savvy voice for the Democratic caucus and played a major role in last Tuesday's triumph.

If the donkey is to be successful in their new majority status, they must prove to the country that they will govern as centrists. By electing Steny Hoyer as their Majority Leader, the Democratic caucus will send a powerful message to the country, that they are seizing the middle.

Stick with Steny.

*This is the Moose's view and does not necessarily represent anyone else's.
-- Posted at 8:24 AM | Link to this post | Email this post

Friday, November 10, 2006

Semper Fi

The Moose wishes the Marine Corps a happy birthday - created November 10, 1775

"From the halls of Montezuma To the shores of Tripoli' ,
We fight our countrys battles In the air', on land, and sea.
First to fight for right and freedom , And to keep our honor clean,
We are proud to claim the title Of United States Marines"

America is indebted to you for your service to our nation.
-- Posted at 6:45 AM | Link to this post | Email this post

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ascendant Center

The Moose celebrates the rise of the middle.

Across the board, the election has been correctly interpreted as the revenge of the center. The immoderate moderates smote the elephants because they have displayed incompetent incompetence and acted as dividers and not uniters. After the red-state blue-state divide, this year the voters were in a furious state.

Both parties are on probation with the electorate. Republicans were fired and Democrats were hired. But, unless they deliver for the vital center, their tenure could be brief.

Liberal commentator E. J. Dionne put it well today,

"...many of the party's successful candidates ran as moderates, and Democrats hold power on the basis of a loan of votes from middle-of-the-road Americans who simply could not stomach Bush Republicanism anymore. The loan can be recalled at any moment."

And conservative commentator David Brooks nailed to the door in the Times,

"Well, somebody’s been on steroids, because on Tuesday the muscular middle took control of America. Say goodbye to the era of Rovian base mobilization. Say goodbye to the era of conservative dominance that began in 1980. On Tuesday, 47 percent of the voters were self-described moderates, according to exit polls, and they asserted their power by voting for the Democrats in landslide proportions."

Perhaps the President's greatest mistake was to fail to forge a new politics after 9/11 and unite the country for the long haul in the war against terror. Instead, in the 2002 midterms, he chose the Rovian politics of the base - and in 2006 that polarizing model cost Republicans control over Congress.

Democrats should not make the same mistake. That means actually working with the White House to achieve big things such as comprehensive immigration reform, energy independence and expansion of the military.

Democrats are no longer just an opposition party. Soon they will control the Legislative Branch. That means that they, unlike the Bush Administration, must have an occupation plan. Progress must be stressed over partisanship. Democrats must make alliances with Republicans to pass legislation to send to the President.

Ideologues of the right and the left take note - the center is inflamed and will not be denied. The immoderate moderates are not wedded to either party. They reward and punish regardless of party affiliation.

Hopefully, the two parties will begin getting their acts together. If not, there is always the Bull Moose!
-- Posted at 8:25 PM | Link to this post | Email this post